Momentus to cut costs as it prepares for the next Vigoride mission
LOGAN, Utah — Space transportation company Momentus plans to cut expenses to save money while continuing its next round of tug missions.
Momentus announced Aug. 11 that its next mission, called Vigoride-5, remains on schedule for launch on the SpaceX Transporter-6 rideshare mission in November as the company implements fixes in the vehicle’s design after the Vigoride-3 tug suffered problems after launch.
“Right now, we’re on track to launch in November,” Momentus chief executive John Rood said on a conference call discussing the company’s second-quarter financial results. “We have a tight schedule to prepare the Vigoride vehicle.”
An investigation into issues with Vigoride-3, which failed to properly deploy its solar panels after its launch in May, traced this issue to a mechanical problem with a hold-down bracket and connector pin not fitting. not released as planned, Rood said. Body-mounted solar panels work, but alone do not produce enough power for normal spacecraft operations.
He said the solar panel deployment mechanism had been tested on the ground “dozens of times” before launch. However, a component of this mechanism had “an unknown design flaw and it differed from the test equipment that performed the ground tests on the deployable solar panels” on this vehicle.
Vigoride-3, in addition to producing much less energy than expected, also suffered from communication problems. Momentus has not been able to establish two-way communication with the spacecraft since late May, when the spacecraft was able to deploy two small satellites. Since then, controllers broadcast commands into the blind. The tug deployed four more satellites in July, with three more yet to be deployed.
Rood said the company is implementing “enhanced ground testing” on Vigoride-5 “to ensure that the corrective actions we have implemented to address anomalies we encountered on Vigoride-3 are accomplished.” .
In addition to Vigoride-5 flying on Transporter-6, Momentus has reserved ports on three Transporter launches in 2023 for additional Vigoride missions, although Rood only mentioned working on Vigoride-5, 6 and 7. 10 months is the highest priority for our business within our free cash flow,” he said.
Momentus posted negligible revenue in the second quarter and a net loss of $22.9 million. The company ended the quarter with $109 million in cash and cash equivalents.
The company took advantage of the earnings release to announce its intention to cut costs in order to stretch its remaining cash. “With these reductions, we now estimate that the cash on our balance sheet should carry us through the end of 2023,” Rood said. While he did not rule out trying to raise more capital, “we believe it is prudent to plan to expand our existing cash runway given the state of capital markets.”
These reductions include operational efficiencies and reduced overhead, although the company did not disclose whether this entailed a reduction in staff. Momentus also plans to cut research and development spending on a reusable version of Vigoride that would stay in orbit and fly multiple missions.
A reusable Vigoride is still in the company’s plans, Rood said, but “we think it makes sense to reduce company-funded spending on R&D projects like this with longer lead times for produce results in order to save money and expand our track.” That vehicle would not have been ready until the middle of the decade under its previous spending plans, he added.
These cost reductions, he said, will not affect work on the next three Vigoride spacecraft. “You will start to see additional cost reductions after these launches.”